April 5, 2013

The Gift of a Flower

Three years ago, one of my sisters gave me an orchid in flower as a gift. When the flowers were spent, I cut off the spike and left the plant on my living room table, where I enjoyed seeing its green leaves. I was very inattentive to the poor plant, watering it just when I remembered, not feeding it, so of course it did not bloom. So I was very surprised one day to look up from the couch where I was reading, and notice that there was a spike with buds on it; it wasn't another root, but an actual flower spike after three quiet years.

This was very exciting for me, so I decided to document the growth of the buds. The first photo above was taken on February 18th, this one, with the buds slightly larger, ten days later on February 28th.

The buds continued to enlarge, and developed a downward curve; this from March 8th.

Then I decided to stake the spike so I'd see the flowers from a more upright position. I was very careless and broke off the largest bud in the process, which made me quite sad. This was photographed on March 14th.

By March 22nd, the largest bud began to have a more rounded shape, like a pregnant belly, and to lighten in color.

Finally, on March 30th, the bud began to open, and I saw that the three parts enclosing the bud became what seemed to be petals, but are actually sepals.

In two days the flower was fully and gloriously open. Click on the image to see the almost animal-like form at its center, like a portrait of a leopard with wings. There is so much that is magical in the world: the fact that from small seeds a plant will grow and flower and produce fruit is still something that at times strikes me as miraculous, as did this flower's appearance on a seemingly dormant plant.


  1. Altoon-
    Jane Goodall has a wonderful article on plants, trees, and seeds in the March issue of the Smithsonian. I think it would very much delight you.

    1. Thanks, Clair. Unfortunately it's not available online, so I won't be able to read it.

  2. I have terrible luck getting orchids to rebloom but maybe I will give my current one a try when it finishes blooming. Inattention seems to be the key!

    1. I'm not sure about inattention, Ms Wis; I have a friend who gets lots of her orchids to rebloom, and she feeds hers. I'm thinking of getting some orchid food. I think the environment must mean a lot too.